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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The River In Our Backyard - Te Awa E Pātata Rawa Ana by Malcolm Paterson


You don't need an overseas trip to encounter centuries of history and unique environments. The fourth in the Sharing our Stories series, The River in our Backyard once again follows cousins Tui and Jennifer and their whānau on a voyage of discovery. This time they are exploring the history and nature of Auckland's Te Atatū Peninsula and nearby places within reach by sea and river. Together they discover the history of the area, how people are looking after the local environment, important people who have helped shape the community and the different cultural backgrounds of people living there. They also get to take part in Deepavali (also known as Diwali).


This is the first book in the series that is fully bilingual in English and te reo Māori, both written by Malcolm Paterson (Ngāti Whātua). It also includes Tamil language. I love how Paterson weaves te reo Māori into the English despite also having a translation. For those who are learning the language, Paterson includes a glossary within the page.


This will be a fantastic resource within schools. It inspires children to investigate their own place and space - looking at local stories, plants, animals and history. There are so many options of how teachers and caregivers can use the book to spark deeper thinking and research.

Martin Bailey's vibrant illustrations bring to life the story of connection that celebrates our shared heritage. His illustrations are simple, but include lots of little details - we had great fun spotting all the animals. Bailey also skillfully weaves historic illustrations with modern life vistas.


This is a wonderful book that allows tamariki and their whānau to engage with their social, cultural and environmental heritage no matter where they are in Aotearoa. This is the first of the series I have seen, and I am excited to see more.


Reviewed by Rebekah Lyell

Oratia Books, RRP $22.99

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